Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Muara Kaman lies along the Mahakam River, in eastern Borneo. In the past the area was a kingdom ruled by Queen Aji Bidara Putih. She was a typical queen of myths: beautiful, wise, and sensitive. Many princes and kings proposed to her but she always refused them because she was more concerned with ruling her country and guarding her people.

One day, a Chinese boat came to eastern Borneo. First the people thought it was a merchant ship but the boat was loaded with trade goods and highly trained soldiers. Their envoys brought gold and porcelain to announce the marriage proposal from a prince of China. The queen didn't refuse instantly and replied that she had to ponder the proposal first. After the envoys left the palace, the queen called a court officer and ordered him to infiltrate the Chinese boat to gather information on the prince.

When night fell the officer sneaked onto the boat, got by all the guards, and finally found the prince's room. The large door would not open and he couldn't find a peek hole, so the officer put his ear to the wall, trying to catch sounds from inside. He heard that the prince was having his dinner and the noise of his chewing and slurping surprised the officer. It was like a boar that he had once heard when he was hunting.

He quickly left the boat and returned to the palace. He reported that the prince must have been a phantom, not a human. He believed that the phantom could be in a human's form only during the daytime. The queen was so surprised and got angry. On the next day, she refused his proposal.

The enraged prince ordered his troops to raid Muara Kaman. The battle was won by the prince's huge band of troops. As they drew near to the palace, Queen Aji Bidara Putih chewed a leaf of betel vine and sang a mantra while holding it. When she threw it at the Chinese troops, it turned to giant centipedes. The Chinese troops started to retreat but three centipedes chased them and sank the boat. The site of the sunken ship is now known as Danau Lipan (Lake of Centipedes), with Chinese treasures hidden on the lake's bed.

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